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The word "epidemiology" comes from three Greek terms:


In other words, and etymologically speaking, "epidemiology" means "what is on populations."

Epidemiology is a branch of medical sciences that seeks to know the characteristics of health and disease processes that affect a defined human population. This is materialized through the study of the geographical distribution and in time of the diseases or events, the frequency with which they manifest and the exposure trend to determinant factors or markers associated with the disease or damage.

The characteristics or attributes of the main existing determinants (who, when, how many and where) can be risk factors or markers that "determine" the appearance of an event, disease or state of health, with which it is possible to generate risk policies. health, prevent diseases or know the natural history of diseases.

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Natural experiments are those that study the impact of a variable determined by nature or other factors beyond the control of the researcher, on a defined human population. This kind of experiment is especially useful when it is not possible to experiment directly with the population, such as the impact of public policies or variables to which groups or entire populations have been exposed, as in the case of a pandemic.

One of the main research programs of the MELISA Institute in epidemiology is the use of natural population experiment designs in time series or that involve methodological innovations using big data, artificial intelligence or maching learning. Through this program, MELISA Institute researchers have carried out several studies published in important scientific journals.

The most recent are three maternal health investigations in Argentina, Mexico and Chile.

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Impact of pandemic viruses on maternal health: the case of Argentina

Emerging viruses can negatively affect women's health, leading to an increase in both complications and deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. This is indicated by a population-based natural experiment on the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and conducted on the basis of Argentine national vital records of maternal deaths. The research was published in The Lancet Regional Health-Americas.

Press release at:

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Determinants of maternal health in Mexico

This study presents the results of a population-based natural experiment examining the factors associated with maternal mortality in the 32 Mexican states over a 10-year period (2002-2011). Analyzes trends in abortion-related and maternal mortality according to differences in abortion legislation, controlling for a number of factors thought to influence maternal mortality rates.


Determinants of maternal health in Chile

Research titled "Women's Education Level, Maternal Health Facilities, Abortion Legislation and Maternal Deaths: a Natural Experiment in Chile from 1957 to 2007" was conducted on behalf of the Chilean Maternal Mortality Research Initiative (CMMRI) and published in PLOS ONE.

Press release at:

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